Friday, February 5, 2010

2009 Final A'ssessment: - Relief Pitchers

Andrew Bailey - (26 saves, 4.63 ERA)

2009 Grade: A

The Good: Your AL Rookie of the Year finished with just 49 hits allowed in 83.1 innings pitched and 91 strikeouts. From June 14 until the end of the season, Bailey gave up six runs over 45 innings (1.20 ERA). His splits were virtually identical between left and right-handed hitters (both slugged .248(!) off him) and home and road (sub-.200 batting averages for both), while Bailey's second half of the season was demonstrably better than his first. Compare this kid's freshman year with Jonathan Papelbon's 2006 rookie season and those of you who've never heard of Bailey can get an idea how good he was.

The Not-So-Good: My A's have an annoying tendency to overwork certain relievers and Bailey endured a 10-game midseason stretch (May 21 to June 10) in which his ERA was 4.85. He had pitched in half the A's games through Memorial Day, but Oakland seemed to be more appreciative of Bailey's arm in the second half of an otherwise unspectacular team season. In addition to overworking arms, Oakland's coaches have been maddeningly inept when it comes to "fixing" pitchers who struggle for extended stretches. Not an issue for Bailey in 2009, but something to keep tabs on going forward.

And, the rest… Erstwhile Chicago Cub Michael Wuertz parlayed a 78.2 innings, 102 strikeouts season into a 2-year extension from the A's last month. His slider is truly one of the handful of must-see pitches in the game. 2008 feel-good fluke Brad Ziegler was solid (3.07 ERA) after injuries and illness torpedoed his first two months of 2009. Santiago Casilla took his straight-as-a-string stuff (5.96 ERA) across the Bay to San Francisco, after the A's non-tendered him. And, journeyman Kevin Cameron appeared in just 11 games, but it was enough for Mrs. Bootleg to buy me his jersey-shirt for Father's Day. Hey, YOU try finding joy in a 75-win season.

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